Minotauromachia | Stonehill College

Stills from minotauromachia, oct. 6, 2012
cushing-martin gallery
stonehill college

The title, “Minotauromachia,” is a play on tauromachia, the term for the traditional corrida or bullfight. I picked this up from Picasso, who famously depicted himself numerous times as a minotaur at the heart of his own work. The doubleness of this idea—being both the maker of the labyrinth (Daedalus) and the one imprisoned by the labyrinth (the Minotaur, but also Daedalus again, as he himself could barely escape the result of his own design)—struck me as fertile ground for writing about writing. During the installation I realized something that I had not when designing the piece: a classical labyrinth, despite being built to confuse (“amaze”) is unicursal, having only one line that leads to the interior; writing as I experience it, though, is multicursal, that is, a maze with many options and choices and no linear pathway toward completion.

This piece was the first time I attempted to work inside of a completely immersive text environment. There were three projectors casting live relay of the text composed onto the three walls, floors, and ceiling of a small gallery space. The fourth wall was glass and closed glass doors, through which passers-by could look in on me like a zoo animal as I wrote for four straight hours. I couldn’t help but think of Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist” while I was doing this.

Setting up the labyrinth:

I chose wooden podiums and lucite cubes partly because these are the kinds of structures one would find for the presentation of art in a typical gallery setting and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to think about how text projected in light would elude this traditional containment and display.  More practically, I wanted to fashion a labyrinth that would both refract the light (the lucite cubes produced unexpected results when the text passed through them—see the shots down below) and block it in ways that frustrated intelligibility.

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During the installation:

Some of the happy accidents of projecting the writing in this space. This is a bit of what it feels like to be inside of one’s own writing, lost, struggling to find an architecture for making order, ensuring eventual passage back out into the world. The themes of the work were this agonized quality of becoming lost in the architecture built by one’s own hand/mind, the relationship between the work and the composer of the work, and the strange familial polyhedron of Daedalus, Icarus, Minos, Pasiphaë, and Asterion (the Minotaur)—to say nothing of Theseus and Ariadne, those rebel youth who conspire to slay the errors of the generation that spawned them. A number of the passages down which the text wandered wound up being about father-son relationships as themselves labyrinthine. I’ve long thought Freud should have made use of the Daedalus myth cycle instead of the Oedipal. What would classical psychoanalysis have looked like had he done so?

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The Minotaur in his labyrinth (or is it Daedalus? Theseus?):

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